This business of eldercraft could use a little more declaration.
As always, the biggest problem is the mountain of sludge that is our Western culture. And it’s worst of all here in the US. I’ve lived in other parts of the Western world. In the give-n-take mixture of what is useful and what is harmful, I find the American brand of Western culture is by far the biggest threat to genuine holiness. The only significant virtue in America is a particular type of room for maneuvering that is missing in other parts of the West; it’s a primary weakness that we can exploit.
This will appear to be chasing a rabbit, but it’s germane: The big brouhaha over Net Neutrality and the FCC is a symptom of this. It’s going to cause us very real trouble as we move forward, so it’s worth understanding a few basics. The fundamental nature of global networking requires that every device connected is treated as a peer. The server-client relationship is purely contextual. Thus, the infrastructure for transmitting all this traffic between theoretical equals demands a certain neutrality, once we account for the demands of protocol. The system itself suffers when the middleman plays favorites. The theory behind the term “Network Neutrality” is an utter necessity.
The problem is that America is the worst place to handle such a thing. That is, we are caught primarily between the power of two pernicious forces: government and industry. The existence of both reflect the hideous nature of American culture. In this case, “industry” refers to vast corporate empires that control the infrastructure that makes up the current Internet. When it comes to the Internet, government and industry are codependents in destroying everything they touch.
Don’t get lost in theoretical doctrine here. It’s a question of how things developed and how they turned out, specifically with the Internet itself. Back when the Internet was controlled by DARPA, it was egalitarian, though tightly access limited. Thus, there were no bad actors because none were admitted to the club. As more and more entities piled into the mix, bad actors showed up and gained a foothold. At first, the system was responsive with good universal protocols. At some point, the enforcement became too complex.
It got out of hand slowly as more and more corporate entities got involved. Today, government controls directly very little of the infrastructure, and industry owns it all. For awhile, the reserve sense of public accountability held industry in check, alongside the sheer number of competitors. As time wore on, competitors were bought up as the corporations formed a de facto oligopoly. The current problem is that those who sell the consumer access are the same people who own the backbone of the Net. They have a choke-hold on the consumer access at all levels.
They are not consumer-friendly. They have become big enough and powerful enough to begin shaping and manipulating consumer demand itself. They have colluded together to create an environment in which consumers seldom question anything because they are too distracted by the flood of degrading provision. It’s not total, but it is overwhelming. More to the point, it is overwhelmingly hostile to what we seek to share. We aren’t big enough yet to get their attention, but their plans and manipulations are inherently threatening to our mission.
Instead of messing about with artificial regulations on Net Neutrality as law, the only useful thing the federal government could have done was forbid the backbone folks from getting into the consumer access market. It’s too late to fix that problem; declaring the Internet as a common carrier or utility service would not work now.
We are on the threshold of a general decline in service, simply because the oligarchs can get away with it. There is no effective market pressure on them, and for the time being, they control enough of the government process to get what they want. Their past behavior is all the proof we need that this is going to get ugly. The other half of the industry that provides content and services other than access will either have to barge into the access market or pay a lot to maintain their own access. Meanwhile, the consumer access market will quite likely become more expensive and far less useful.
This is what an elder can see, a sketchy historical outline based on some limited acquaintance with the technology and social sciences. I haven’t touched on the part played by local governments, who vary widely in their accountability to the people. Meanwhile, there remains the vision of God’s divine plan and the assurance that He means business. I have no end of confidence and faith that our heart-led approach to religion is God’s own way for us, and that He will not allow all of these problems to hinder His revelation. However, you have to understand that what hinders the message will be resolved through called and inspired servants of God exploiting His miraculous works.
My calling and inspired vision tells me we need a networking elder, someone who is well acquainted with how this stuff actually works, and where it is headed. Need I remind you that Radix Fidem was born on the Internet? This is our turf; God has called us here and intends to use us here in virtual space. While we may well get by with a hired gun, I am convinced that God wants us to pray together for a genuine network elder, someone who shares our vision as part of the family of faith.